At a time when many people fear that the English language is entering a period of serious decline, the author of this book takes a more optimistic view. He believes that it is imperative to see modern English as a rich and diverse linguistic system deposited on our shores some 1,500 years ago, and left with us unweakened, though substantially changed, by the social and political events of the intervening period. Part 1 of this book is based on the T.S. Eliot Memorial Lectures delivered at the University of Kent at Canterbury in November 1988, which cover a wide range of topics in English lexicography and grammar. Part 2 consists of eight essays written between 1973 and 1987 and now brought together for the first time.